How to get better at small talk

How to get better at small talk

How to get better at small talk

Praise Maukazuva, 15 February 2017

Most people find it difficult to socialize or simply engage in a small conversation. Which is normal, because it is not an easy task. You probably have absolutely nothing in common, or they are too sophisticated that you might feel like you are insulting them accidentally. I have been in such situations and they normally end with an awkward pause, or silence.

So how can we get better at this? You might find the tips below useful:

1. Show interest in the conversation

You can show interest by asking more about themselves. Let them talk about themselves. That way you are also able to pick up some areas of interesting that you can discuss on. Show that you care about what they are talking about and be a good listener.

2. Ask open-ended question

Avoid questions that will end up with a “yes” or “no” answer. That will end the kill the conversation.

3. Try to practice with anyone

It can be your house cleaner, or the security guard. This will help you maintain interesting conversations. It will also make you comfortable with starting up conversations.

4. Pass out positive comments

Or to flatter them. People like to be praised and they always want to be associated with people who make them feel better.

5. Learn from reality show hosts or comedians

Master how they ask questions and how they handle different expressions or answers, positive and negative both. The order of questions they ask also. It is very important. Questions that are too mumbled will kill the conversation.

6. Be Honest

Honesty is an important aspect when it comes to communication. Especially when you want to start a relationship, as it promotes relationships of trust.

7. F.O.R.M.

In case you forget or run out on what to ask. F is for family. You can talk about about family. O is for occupation, where they work or if they are still a student, what they are studying. R is for Recreation, what they do for fun or places they have visited so far. And lastly M for Money. Now this doesn’t mean you have to ask them what they earn or how much money they have but simply economy issues or current affairs.

And most of all. Body language is very important. I will leave you with the last acronym SOFTEN.

S Smile often, this shows that you are interested in the conversation
O Open posture
F Forward lean
T Touch by shaking hands
E Eye contact should be kept always
N Nod your head, to show that you are listening and you can actually relate with what they are talking about

Forever Alone… CNY Aftermaths

Forever Alone… CNY Aftermaths

Forever Alone... CNY Aftermaths

Zameen Datta, 6 February 2017

What it’s like being single on Chinese New Year

Millions of 20 somethings look towards the Chinese New Year with dread each year. While many of them enjoy the chance to meet up with their families, it also means having to sit through all the questions from various older relatives, including the inevitable…

“Why aren’t you married yet?”

Social commentator Yolanda Wang believes that a lot of this pressure to get married is due to cultural reasons. “In Chinese culture people really care about how others look at you, how they judge you. If you are good enough, why are you still single?” Wang said. For some people, the problem comes from relatives who may be a little too old fashioned.

Image: Carbonate.TV

In an interview with Asia One, 44-year-old Singaporean Miss Ng spoke about her relationship with her own parents.

“It’s natural for parents to worry over their children’s marital status, and my parents happen to belong to the traditional type who think that a woman’s job is to marry and have kids. So being successful in your career and being self-sufficient mean nothing to them, unfortunately.”

So why aren’t people getting married?

The answers can be boiled down to two main reasons: money and power. Specifically, the fact that young people have less money and more power than their parents did.

At a time when so many young people are struggling to own a house and car, most 20 somethings are more focused on their careers than their love lives.

“I can always find someone later,” they think.

Apart from that, young men and women are no longer content to remain stuck in a bad relationship. According to Professor Dr Low Wah Yun, a chartered psychologist with University Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine, views have altered dramatically over the years.

“Before, you had to stick to being married whether you liked it or not. But these days, people look at it differently because so many more people are getting divorced. Parents are slowly changing to accept divorce, especially if that’s what makes their children happy.”

Dr. Low pointed out that modern young women are much more willing to be picky about their choice of husbands. “Women are becoming more liberated and educated,” she said. “So they are braver about speaking up and saying, ‘hey, I’m not gonna put up with this anymore!’”

As a result, people are taking longer and longer to get married. In the 19740s, the average age of marriage in Malaysia was 18. In the 1970s, this had risen to 22. By the time we reached 2013, the average median age of marriage among Malaysians is 26.9 years old, one year younger than the United States (27.9), and a few years younger than most European countries like the Netherlands (32.7) and the United Kingdom (32.5).




Average marrying age over time

Being a “leftover”

In China, they’re known as “sheng nu” (剩女:leftover women). In Japan, the term “Christmas Cake” is often used (because they’ve “gone bad” after the 25th birthday). Whatever you call them, Asian culture tends to frown upon women who have reached a certain age without getting married.

On the flip side, men are also under a lot of pressure to get hitched, with older unmarried men being given labels like guang gun” (光棍:bare branch) – branches that don’t add to the family tree.

Tired of the questions and prodding, some young singles have gone to extreme lengths in order to satisfy their families.

Boyfriend for rent

In 2015, a man called ‘Liu’ from China’s northeastern Liaoning province was arrested for kidnapping a woman he intended to take home as his wife for CNY. For those who aren’t quite as desperate, websites like allow you to choose between thousands of profiles to find the right (fake) partner for you this Chinese New Year.

The idea of hiring someone to pretend to be your boyfriend may seem like the plot of a bad comedy, but the emergence of international online agencies like Rent-a-Gent is a sign of just how big this business can be.

A spokesman from Rent-a-Gent explained why people use their services, mentioning that while some people hired escorts to spend the holidays with, others “specifically use our service to get their families to stop asking them about their boyfriend and marriage plans”.

Before you get too excited, you should be aware that most of these agencies have a strict “no touching” policy. Hand holding and hugs may be acceptable, but kissing is a bit iffy and anything further is considered a big no-no.

Rental lovers don’t have it easy either – not only do they have to act like they’re in love with someone they barely know, they also need to keep up with all their client’s requirements, some of which can be rather unusual. One of the job descriptions from a woman looking for a fake boyfriend includes a request for someone who “can play mahjong and drink a lot”.

On the bright side, the job pays pretty well.

Prices for a rental boyfriend or girlfriend starts from at least USD200 (RM625) an hour or USD3,000 (roughly RM 9,378) a day!

Would you ever consider renting a lover? Tell us!

Top Online Bouquet Delivery

Top Online Bouquet Delivery

Top Online Bouquet Delivery

for Valentine's Day or any other occasions!

Happy Bunch

Price: From RM48
Image from: Happy Bunch Facebook


Price: From RM68

Image from: 50Gram Facebook

Breathe better with cleaner air

Breathe better with cleaner air

The transboundary haze plaguing Malaysia annually has raised the public’s awareness on the importance of good air quality. Consequently, there are now a plethora of air purifiers in the market. As such, shopping for one can be a daunting task.

We surveyed the market to give you a brief review of what is available in Malaysia. Below, we compare the attributes of air purifiers from five popular brands – Coway, Cuckoo, Dyson, Panasonic and Sharp.

A good air purifier is effective in both removing airborne particles and improving indoor air quality. The objective of the air purifiers is to minimize the hazardous health effect of polluted indoor air in a user friendly manner by continuously reducing the concentration of particles in the air to a minimum, especially the smallest particles (nano particles, below 0,1micron) as these are considered causing the most severe health problems.

Coway has four air purifiers available in Malaysia. The Dolomities has a 4-step filtration, the Indicator and Tuba have 5, and the Lombok II has 6. All of them feature Coway’s Anti-Flu HEPA™ Filter that eliminates cigarette smoke, micro dust, bacteria, viruses and germs. Indicator and Lombok II have a resistive barrier discharge (RBD) plasma and filtration system that generates charged ions that capture airborne particles and sterilise moulds and germs like Aspergillus, Nigermand and E.Coli and decompose harmful gases like formaldehyde. All but Dolomities have a deodorisation filter.

Source: Coway

Cuckoo only has one air purifier in the market, simply named B Model, which is certified with the Clean Air Mark by the Korean Air Cleaning Association. It features an 8-level filtration, which consists of 5 filters – “Pre-Filter, Allergen Plus, Harmful Gas Relax, Deodorixing, 4-in-1 HEPA” – and a plasma ionizer. Cuckoo boasts of filters that are 1.5x larger than those of regular air purifiers (300x465).

Dyson, meanwhile, boasts of filters capable of capturing pollutants as small as 0.1 microns. Moreover, Dyson’s 360° Glass HEPA filter is engineered to draw air from all around, allowing free positioning of the machine. A layer of activated carbon granules captures odours and potentially harmful toxins like paint fumes.

Dyson’s patented Air Multiplier™ technology draw air through the filter and accelerate it through the machine, creating a long-range stream of smooth air. It’s the same technology used in Dyson’s bladeless fans.

The Dyson Pure Cool™ and Pure Cool™ Link are also low maintenance. Some purifiers rely on you changing, washing and drying your filters every month or so. Waiting for the filters to dry can result in up to six hours without a purifier. It takes fewer than 60 seconds to replace Dyson’s filter, and only after using it for 12 hours every day for a year.

Dyson’s 360° Glass HEPA filter is engineered to draw air from all angles

Panasonic, meanwhile, feature long-lasting filters (other than the pre-filters). The filters of the F-VK655A last 5 years while those of F-VXK70A lasts 10 years.

The key technology in Panasonic air purifiers is nanoe™ – it claims that this technology inhibits 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, reduces 90% of odour after 30 minutes, and even restores moisture back to your skin! A nanoe™ is a fine (5-20nm) and weak acidic water particle with a reactive substance and an electric charge. nanoe™ possesses the characteristics of removing hydrogen from viruses, bacteria, odours and allergens. It has a lifespan 6x of normal ions. The nanoe™ dimension is one-billionth parts of vapour, which enables it to easily penetrate textile fibres and eliminate bacteria and odour.

Sharp has a similar technology, which it calls Plasmacluster Ion technology, that powerfully and quickly removes airborne particles.

Mechanism for removing bacteria from the air using Plasmacluster (for illustration purpose only)

Source: Sharp

Filtration aside, there are other unique characteristics that may sway you to consider them.

Sharp, for example, has two air purifier models that can also double as a mosquito catcher! Some of the Panasonic and Sharp models are also humidifiers. Cuckoo has voice guide enabled — you can choose between English, Malay and Mandarin.

Dyson air purifiers double as fans and arguably the most aesthetically-pleasant air purifiers in the market. Not that because they are fans, they tend to be louder than others when on higher fan speeds. Nonetheless, they are quieter than regular blade fans. Moreover, while other air purifiers rely on big AC motors and large filters to purify the air, taking up valuable space in your home, Dyson purifier fans use a small efficient DC motor. Its compact footprint makes it smaller than conventional purifiers.

Dyson purifiers can be set to automatically monitor, react and purify the air — multiple sensors  detect changes in conditions, before automatically adjusting airflow to maintain your target air quality. Live air quality metrics are then sent straight to your Dyson Link app (for Pure Cool™ Link machines). You can also control your purifier remotely via the app.

Brand Model Power Consumption Airflow Rate Noise Level (dB) Pollution Indicator Weight (kg)


5.6 – 38.0W 1.9 – 5.1 m³/min 21.1 – 48.0 Colour Indicator 7.9

Lombok II

13 – 72W 1.6 – 7.1 m³/min 20.0 – 70.5 Colour Indicator 12.0


106W Max 4.2 – 16.8 m³/min 31.2 – 52.5 Colour Indicator 25.0

B Model

16.4 – 33W n/a n/a -Colour indicator

-Contamination figure

-Voice Guide


Pure Cool™

56W 33.4 litres/s 63dBA
(Max Setting)
Colour indicator. Detailed reported shown via Dyson Link App. 3.03 (desk)

3.2 (tower)

Pure Cool™ Link

56W 418 litres/s 63dBA
(Max Setting)
Colour indicator. Detailed reported shown via Dyson Link App. 3.03 (desk)

3.2 (tower)


12 – 54W 1-5.5m³/min 10 – 58 Colour indicator 11.9


n/a 1.1-6.7m³/min 18 – 54 Colour indicator 10.2


Brand & Model Power Consumption

Airflow Rate
Noise Level

Pollution Indicator
Weight (kg)


5.6 – 38.0W

1.9 – 5.1 m³/min

21.1 – 48.0

Colour Indicator


Lombok II
13 – 72W

1.6 – 7.1 m³/ min

20.0 – 70.5

Colour Indicator


106W Max

4.2 – 16.8 m³/ min

31.2 – 52.5

Colour Indicator


B Model

16.4 – 33W



Colour indicator, contamination figure, voice Guide


Pure Cool™


33.4 litres/s

(Max Setting)—Colour indicator. Detailed report shown via Dyson Link App.
3.03 (Desk)

3.2 (Tower)

V6 Entry


418 litres/s

(Max Setting)—Colour indicator. Detailed report shown via Dyson Link App.
3.03 (Desk)

3.2 (Tower)


12 – 54W

1 – 5.5 m³/min

10 – 58

Colour Indicator




1.1 – 6.7 m³/min

18 – 54

Colour Indicator



Decent air purifiers are not cheap. Coway and Cuckoo air purifiers can also be rented if you prefer not to buy them outright.

Coways range from RM2,500 to RM4,500 or RM85-150/month to rent. The Cuckoo B Model is RM2,988 or RM120/month to rent. Dyson’s Pure Cool™ Link tower costs RM3,399 while the desk model costs RM2,599. Panasonic models range from RM599 for the entry level F-PXJ30A with 20m2 coverage, to RM2,999 for the F-VK655A. Sharp air purifiers range from RM549 to RM2,619, with the two mosquito catcher models costing RM769 and RM1,049.

Dyson's Trade in Campaign

If Dyson tickles your fancy, you may want to take advantage of its trade-in campaign running from 10 Dec 2016 to 29 Jan 2017. Enjoy 15% off all Dyson technology (vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and purifier fans). When you trade-in any vacuum cleaner, desk/floor standing fans or air purifiers. Terms and conditions apply.

How three cities from across the world have become global ‘Smart City’ leaders

How three cities from across the world have become global ‘Smart City’ leaders

How three cities from across the world have become global ‘Smart City’ leaders

It stands to reason that, as technology advances, so too would the quality of life and living of humankind. Smart Cities are quickly gaining traction globally, and it’s estimated that by 2025, there will be 88 of them around the world. Of course, Malaysia is no exception.

But, what is a Smart City, exactly? Is it a city filled with smart people? A city of tall skyscrapers, clean air, and flying cars?

The concept of ‘Smart City’ varies – there is no universal consensus yet on what defines a Smart City, but the overarching idea points towards the use of technology in innovative ways to integrate components of a city.

These components include its government, the human networks, and the environment, to find the best and most efficient, earth-friendly solutions for the city of the future.

In 2012, internationally-renowned urban strategist and Smart City expert Boyd Cohen unveiled his Smart City Wheel, which outlines the features, functions, and goals of a Smart City, with reference to major indicators and rankings.

Cohen’s framework has been widely adopted by various academia and industry players; and Cohen, together with other prominent researchers and advocates of the Smart City concept further developed a set of 62 assessment indicators.

Smart City #1 – Amsterdam, Netherlands

The iconic Iamsterdam letters behind the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein

Amsterdam represents another of the Five Flagships among Smart Cities, having drawn up a plan for rolling out fibre to 40,000 homes in 2002. This plan was executed in 2006, with another 100,000 homes receiving fibre by 2009. By allowing the implementation of projects at a local level in the city, the effectiveness of the project can be easily gauged, with the most effective strategies then implemented on a wider scale.

Centering its focus on six key aspects, namely Infrastructure and Technology, Mobility, Governance and Education, Citizens and Living, Circular City, and Energy, Water and Waste, Amsterdam adopts the bottom-up philosophy throughout the implementation of its Smart City initiative.

The City-zen project is part of Amsterdam’s initiative, with the goal to develop and demonstrate energy efficient cities and to build a methodology and tools for cities, industries and citizens to reach the 20-20-20 targets, which are a series of targets set by the European Union, which aims for a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 1990 levels, 20% of the energy, on the basis of consumption, coming from renewables and a 20% increase in energy efficiency.

Smart City #2 – Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, the city that never sleeps. Image from Barcelonaturisme

Acknowledged as one of the first Smart Cities in the world, Barcelona is also considered one of the cities at the forefront of Smart City development. In 2015, they were also named as The Smartest City in the World.

The move to uplift Barcelona towards the status of a Smart City was spearheaded by then-Deputy Mayor Antoni Vives back in 2000, with the plan to utilise technology and innovative solutions to manage resources and services, thus improving the quality of life of its residents.

Barcelona is also lauded by the European Union for its application of carbon-lowering technologies, such as its combination of an efficient bus system with hybrid busses that reduce emissions. Others include Smart parking spaces, which reduce loiter time waiting for a space, its bicycle sharing system, as well as a pneumatic waste management system (which means fewer garbage trucks).

Smart City #3 – Taipei, Taiwan

The Taipei 101 stands majestically in the background. Image from the Taiwan Tourism Bureau

The city of Taipei is recognised as a flagship Smart City in Asia, having been named among the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year by the Intelligent Community Forum in 2004 and again in 2006. In 2015, the Taipei City Bus System’s app as well as the city council’s apps for municipal administration and dynamic disaster prevention won the Innovative Application Award for Smart Mobility and Smart Governance respectively.

Those stand in line with Taipei’s Smart City policy, which will focus on the areas of Smart Governance, Smart Infrastructure, Smart Citizens, and Smart Experiment Sites, with the ultimate goal of the initiative being to better public services and facilities for citizens through the application and implementation of intelligent technologies and IoT solutions.

Malaysia Wants to have Smart Cities Too!

Closer to home, Malaysia is working towards Smart City efforts, in cities such as Cyberjaya, Penang and Nusajaya, Johor, exploring joint ventures or executing blueprints to bring the dream of an efficient, smarter city to life.

The state of Selangor — the largest contributor to the Malaysian GDP at RM 240 billion (US$54.5 billion) — is herself working towards joining the ranks of Flagship Smart Cities globally, with initiatives such as WiFi Selangorku, the #SmartSelangor Bus Service, and a Smart Waste Management System called iClean Selangor already in place.

We expect leadership to deliver much more in the nearer future, as they unveil their Smart Selangor Blueprint at the Selangor Smart City International Conference this December.

MR.D.I.Y. & DAISO compared in RM5 November showdown

MR.D.I.Y. & DAISO compared in RM5 November showdown

MR.D.I.Y. & DAISO Compared In RM5 NOVEMBER Showdown.

MR.D.I.Y. lowers prices for a limited time, RM5 Sale matches Daiso’s price sen for sen.

Smart consumers are the ones who will take their time to compare the prices from different vendors to make sure they make smart purchasing decisions.
But that can take a lot of time so we’ve gone ahead and done it for you.
MR.D.I.Y. is holding a RM 5 sale that will last throughout the month of November, bringing their prices down to match that of Daiso’s, whose products are selling at RM5 year around.

So we’ve gone into both shops to compare each company’s products and rate them on the quality and quantity of their wares.


Upon buying the pails, we immediately noticed the difference in size, MR.D.I.Y.’s is almost twice as big as the one we bought in Daiso. We knocked them up a bit and also found the pail from MR.D.I.Y. to be of slightly better quality than the one we bought from Daiso.

Water Bottles

The two water bottles don’t differ much in terms of quality. But for RM5, the MR.D.I.Y. bottle can hold 2.5 litres of water while the one from Daiso can only hold 1.6litres, though these arguably serve different purposes, one made to be more portable and one to be left at home. Furthermore, the MR.D.I.Y. bottle comes with a handle while the one from Daiso doesn’t.

Chopping board

Daiso’s chopping board has a bigger surface area than MR.D.I.Y.’s. But MR.D.I.Y. ‘s board is thicker and is beautifully made of bamboo. However, Daiso’s chopping board, being made of plastic, is lighter, making it easier to be carried around.

Toilet Brush

Daiso’s toilet brush is made of flimsier material advertised on the packaging as “spongetawashi” but they come off easily when pulled. On the other hand, MR.D.I.Y.’s toilet brush is both sturdy and comes with a container. MR.D.I.Y.’s brush however, is made straight, making it difficult to reach into the deeper areas of the bowl while Daiso’s is shaped slightly slanted at the end, making it easier to manoeuvre into hard to reach areas.


The clocks, other than in its design, are minimally different from one another, both featuring analog faces. But where they differ is in their size, with the one from MR.D.I.Y. being slightly larger than the one we bought from Daiso.


Arguably, both of these padlocks serve different purposes, the one from Daiso, which is normally used for luggage and travelling bags, and another from MR.D.I.Y. for doors and gates. However, it needs to be said that purely in terms of getting the most bang for your buck, that MR.D.I.Y. is the winner in giving you value for money.

Correction Tape

In comparing the correction tape from the two different brands, we found that for RM 5, MR.D.I.Y. is giving us six rollers, while Daiso only gave us one for the same price. We opened them up to test the quality, they both give us roughly the same amount of tape. But it must be said that the one from Daiso can be refilled with tape sold at their stores.


The stationery we bought from Daiso was of their own brand and for RM 5 we could only afford a set of four pencils. However, when we went to MR.D.I.Y. , we were pleasantly surprised to find that for the same price, we got a set of six 2B pencils, three erasers (2 of which can be fitted on back of the pencils), a ruler, and a sharpener, not to mention they were from Faber-Castell.


For the same price, we managed to get a set of three pairs of socks from MR.D.I.Y. whereas, when we looked for the same product in Daiso, we could only find one pair at the same price. There isn’t any noticeable difference in quality between the two brands of socks


The cosmetic brushes that we bought from Daiso came in a small container that the brushes can be stored in making it more portable than MR.D.I.Y.’s , but the brushes themselves were flimsy and didn’t feel very lasting. MR.D.I.Y.’s cosmetic brushes on the other hand did not come in a container, but they were sturdy and well-made and even had one extra brush than the set that we bought from Daiso.

MR.D.I.Y. ‘s products are the clear winner of the comparisons, but It must be said that Daiso offers these products all year, so it is understandable why they cant match MR.D.I.Y.’s value for money, whose promotion will only be lasting for a month, so you’d probably want to head over there and take advantage of it in November.

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